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Matt Marine

Matt Marine is an Arizona resident who loves exploring Arizona's wonderful outdoor adventures. To find out more about Matt, click the link below.

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Cat-Dog is my faithful trail companion. Her real name is Cammie. Why do I call her Cat-Dog?

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Sara Harelson

I’m Sara! I’m 21, a senior in college, and a journalism major.  I love to read, write, travel, and listen to music.  I’m always on to my next adventure.


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Name: Baby Jesus Trail Author's Rating:
Author: Matt Marine Avg. User Rating: Not rated yet
Type: Bike Difficulty: (Challenging) The trail is an almost continuous uphill climb behind Baby Jesus Ridge
Time: 2 - 4 hours Region: SE Arizona
Length: 7.2 miles (total out-and-back). Add an additional 2.5 miles if you are starting from the corral (Waypoint 008) Elevation gain/loss/change: +1137 / -1137 ft / +0 ft (total out-and-back)
Type: Out-and-back Avg Elevation: 3500 ft
Best time to go: fall, spring, winter Fees: May require a State Trust Land permit (see update on permit page).
Fitness rating: Medium Educational Merit: Low
Danger/fear rating: Low Scenic Beauty: Medium
Hours of Operation: NA Last updated: November, 2010
Short Description: A challenging uphill climb to a "wild goldfish" pond
Geocaches:Tons of cool geocaches around. Here's one: Baby Jesus Trail
References / Contact Information: Hike Arizona; Catalina State Park
Points of interest: Beautiful saguaro stands, interesting rock formations and awesome wild goldfish pond
Special Considerations: May require a State Trust Land permit (see update on permit page).
How to get there: Catalina is north of Tucson. Take Oracle Road, which turns into SR 77 to Golder Ranch Road and turn right. Follow Golder Ranch until it turns to dirt, go through the cattle guard and take an immediate left on E. Equestrian Trail. Drive on this well graded dirt road for about a half mile and you'll see a corral on the right (Waypoint 008). Park here if you have a car. Follow the 4wd road to Waypoint 001 (see GPS directions) to trail head. If you have a high-clearance 2wd truck or 4wd, you can drive down this road to the Sutherland Wash and park at the trailhead. Click here for directions.

Trail Description

If you're the adventurous sort, you can climb up the foothills of the Catalina Mountains northwest of Tucson, near Catalina to visit a "wild" goldfish pond – something extremely unusual in Arizona. This trail can be done as a long loop trail which connects to a 4WD trail called the Sutherland Trail (which is brutally rough).

Note: This trail was originally done as a hike, but could be done as a mountain bike ride also. Many of the pictures and video are from my original hike.

General Information and History

The trail begins near Catalina and a portion of the 50-year trail (although this is not part of that trail). You have two choices for a trailhead. One (Waypoint 008), is a parking lot just off a dirt road near a corral (recommended if you have a car). You will then have to walk a little over a mile on a 4WD road to reach the singletrack trailhead. Two, if you have a 4WD or high clearance 2wd truck, you can drive down the road to the Sutherland Wash and park right next to the trailhead (Waypoint 001).

The trail climbs its way up the west side of the Catalina Mountains under the Samaniego Ridge. It takes you up from the Sutherland Wash, behind the Baby Jesus Ridge past Wooden Trough Spring and up to the Sutherland Wash 4WD road. From there you can access the trails in Catalina State Park, do a loop or turn around and come back the way you came.

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The Trail

From Waypoint 001, cross the sandy wash and immediately look for the metal step-over gate straight ahead. Start climbing the well-used trail as you head behind Baby Jesus Ridge. This area is a restoration area and is one of my favorite portions of the trail. I love the stands of huge saguaros!

On the first half of this trail, you will be biking through a lot of “chutes”, or curved, washed out sections that can be difficult on the way up, but fun on the way down.

At Waypoint 002, you will start crisscrossing a wash for the next ½ mile or so. If you are lucky enough to be on the trail after a decent rain, this wash may be running and you might have the opportunity to catch a rare desert waterfall.

After almost another mile (Waypoint 003), you’ll come to a large, flat rocky area (you are still climbing, but the rocks are fairly flat). From here on out, the trail can be faint at times. To help you out, there are small rock cairns spaced every so often along the trail. Head up the rocks for about 100 feet or so and find the trail on the left side (you will not go all the way up the rocks). It is very faint for a while here, but it soon becomes well-traveled again.

At Waypoint 004, you’ll see a nice rock formation off to your right which someone piled a few rocks on. When I did this trail with Cat-Dog, she got very spooked at this. She stared at the rock formation, “woofed” a few times, and wouldn’t go near it. Something she’s never done before. I made a rudimentary investigation of the area, but didn’t see anything. And I didn’t stay long. I trust Cat-Dog’s instincts. On the way back, she did the same thing at the point. I have no idea what spooked her there.

There are some nice views back the way you came at Waypoint 005, the highest point of the hike. Go straight through the wash at Waypoint 006, the trail can be hard to see on the other side, but it’s there.

I took a break at Wooden Trough Spring (Waypoint 007). This is a misnomer since the trough is now concrete, but it’s well worth the trip. To my surprise, there were dozens of small koi (goldfish) seemingly thriving in this small pound. They were beautiful and appeared healthy. After reading some other posts on the trail, they have been there for a while. I’m not sure how they survive the winter (or summer), but they do.

This was an awesome spot for a lunch break. Butterflies flew around, Cat-Dog dipped her paws in the water, looked at the fish, and asked for a fishing pole. I didn’t have one, but told her we’d bring one for the next trip.

You can turn around here, or continue another mile to the Sutherland Trail. This is a 4WD trail that you can make a loop if you'd like (see Sutherland 4WD adventure). Whatever you choose to do, have fun and be safe!

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